From diagnosis to live-saving treatment: testing is the first step

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​Starting today, some 400 organisations Europe-wide are  hosting activities to increase awareness of the benefits of HIV and hepatitis  testing.

Starting today, some 400 organisations Europe-wide are hosting activities to increase awareness of the benefits of HIV and hepatitis testing. These diseases can be asymptomatic for a long time and many people are unaware of their infection. From 20 to 27 November 2015, ECDC supports European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week and makes it easier for everyone to locate the nearest HIV testing site in Europe with the newly-launched HIV Test Finder.

“In Europe, an estimated 10 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis B and C but most of them do not know it. Our data also show that every second HIV diagnosis happens late – which also means these people can unknowingly pass the virus on to others. If we want to successfully curb HIV and viral hepatitis infections, we need to close this gap between those who are diagnosed and can get treatment and those who are infected but unaware”, stresses ECDC Acting Director Andrea Ammon.

Viral hepatitis is preventable and curable. While there is currently no cure for HIV, early diagnosis allows access to lifesaving treatment and also reduces the long term cost to the healthcare system. But reaching and testing those at risk is still a public health challenge across Europe which is why ECDC supports the efforts of the European HIV-Hepatitis Testing Week that now includes testing for hepatitis.

The theme for European HIV testing week 2015 is ‘Test. Treat. Prevent.’ aiming to increase positive dialogue among those who ought to be tested for HIV and viral hepatitis and those who offer tests across Europe. Bringing testing closer to those at risk of infection while avoiding stigmatisation and discrimination is still a public health challenge in the EU/EEA.

Where to test Find out with the European HIV Testing Finder

The 2014 results from ECDC’s monitoring of the implementation of the Dublin Declaration on HIV/AIDS show that too few countries have programmes to increase availability and encourage uptake of testing for key populations like men who have sex with men or people who inject drugs.

The European HIV Test Finder makes it a lot easier to locate an HIV testing site within the region: all that is needed is a post code or city name to find information about the nearest testing site. “A quick and simple blood test helps to check if you are infected or not and with that knowledge you can better protect your own health and that of others. Whether on your computer or on your mobile phone, with the European HIV Test Finder it will not take you long to find a testing site near you”, explains Ammon.

To help countries in their efforts to identify HIV infections early, the ECDC HIV testing guidance provides key information on why, where, how and when to test for HIV. It aims to inform existing national HIV testing strategies in Member States to adopt a strategic, evidence-based approach to develop and implement effective HIV testing procedures. Recommendations and key messages of the HIV testing week are in line with the ECDC guidance.

Read more

HIV testing in Europe evidence brief (Monitoring implementation of the Dublin Declaration on partnership to fight HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia – 2014 progress report)HIV testing: increasing uptake and effectiveness in the European Union (in brief)Surveillance Report: HIV/AIDS Surveillance in Europe 2013